Banana Tree News asked the residents to share questions they wanted to ask the canidates. Here are the questions and answers from the republican party. Please note – most represent the whole group. If it is only from one canidate – it is noted at the end of the answer.
1. What are your feelings about the lack of diversity on the council?
The US government wasn’t set up to have one party control. The diversity we are looking for here comes in the form of balanced and constructive discussion from two parties. So all residents of Glen Rock have a voice. The Republican party routinely represents about 45% of Glen Rock voters.Check and balance with a two party system.
We believe the ideal representation for any municipality will reflect the diversity of the constituents it serves. Unfortunately, many people from disadvantaged or marginalized groups don’t run for office and representation becomes limited to a subset of the population. We believe the more representative a Council can be in regards to ethnicity, race, sex, identity, disability, and age; the better a Council can understand and address the needs of that community.
2. What is your position regarding local elected officials taking party line county jobs paying high compensation and building pension credits that significantly increase pension payouts when they leave?”
We are against any elected officials receiving county jobs. Regardless of what the pay/role/career opportunity might be. This represents a conflict of interest and jeopardizes the integrity of local political decisions and erodes public confidence as to the independence of the Mayor or Council members decisions.We will not take a county Job.
3. What are your plans to get the Ridgewood water quality problem fixed?
After looking into this issue and talking to neighbors I discovered that Ridgewood Water has some of the highest concentrations of PFOs and PFAs of any public water supply in New Jersey. Many residents and neighbors have installed reverse osmosis filters in their homes at significant cost to their budgets. Unfortunately, not everyone in our community has the means to do so. We believe that access to clean, affordable water is an universal right for everyone. No resident, but especially our children and most vulnerable residents, should not be put at risk for developing cancer and other health related illnesses from drinking and bathing in water provided by Ridgewood Water.
The Ridgewood water situation is complex, but we would start by working with other municipalities to leverage our collective power to legally hold the companies responsible for contamination accountable. We would work with Ridgewood water, the DEP, other impacted municipalities, and the federal government to assist Ridgewood Water in obtaining grants or low cost loans. Additionally, We would work to create a clean water rebate program for high risk residents that need to install a water filtration system to protect their medical conditions from worsening.
We would also investigate what happened when Glen Rock and other municipalities won their lawsuit for being overcharged by Ridgewood Water. We will work to make sure residents are given the money they are owed from being overcharged. The talks that happened with leadership in Wyckoff, Midland Park and Ridgewood in years past need to be resumed. All towns using Ridgewood Water need to have a seat at the table when decisions are made about infrastructure, rates, and treatment facilities.
4. What area of Downtown would you want to see fixed up? What would you do?
We know the Council has worked to deem some parts of downtown as an “Area in Need of Rehabilitation” in order to make our business district look nicer by incentivizing owners with tax rebates. We would like to make it easier for small businesses already in place to get outdoor seating, and have road closure events more often to instill a sense of community. I’d like to work with the Chamber of Commerce to diversify the types of business in town and work with the downtown alliance to plan the regeneration.
5. To the republicans: Why did you not want to have a debate under the League of Women Voters?
We understand many residents were disappointed by our decision to not participate in the debate. Our decision was rooted in our wish for an honest and fair debate forum. We (as well as other neighboring towns) felt for years that the League of Women Voters has become an increasingly biased platform for the candidate debate.
We replied days and weeks in advance via email and postal mail that we would not be attending the debate. We also never once confirmed attendance to the event with the League. The subsequent spectacle and ‘no show’ label assigned by the league further proves our initial instincts, that it would not be a fair forum for us to answer questions. The National League of Women Voter office has been contacted about the situation and is investigating what happened. We hope Republican candidates will be able to engage in the next scheduled debate.
6. If you win – would you revoke the town pride events
No we would not revoke the town Pride Events. We believe if it helps even a small amount of people feel comfortable we would like to continue having them. We also would like to make sure the same amount of money that the town gives to this event is given to all Glen Rock events. All town events should be run and decided with the council and chamber of commerce.
7. What qualifications do you have to run the town?
The Mayor doesn’t run the Borough of Glen Rock. Glen Rock’s form of government is a “weak mayor/strong council” which means the mayor only votes if there is a tie among Council members. The mayor does make committee assignments with the advice from the Council. For me, the Mayor acts as both a spokesperson of the town and a leader who assists the Council in developing and implementing legislative priorities.
We moved to Glen Rock for the small town feel, the great schools, and the kind and generous people. Glen Rock is a great town, but it has many challenges that need to be addressed; we have two new developments that will be built that will significantly increase traffic and air pollution on Maple and Rock Road, we have polluted water being piped into homes, high property taxes for the services we receive, we are losing our tree canopy, and our children are dealing with mental health issues as a result of the pandemic.
I am uniquely qualified to communicate and tackle these difficult issues. As an Electrician working in New York City for the last 25 years, I need to make quick, safe and cost effective decisions all day long, taking into consideration all construction elements of the job. I feel these skills can be easily transferable.
~~ James Hughes
8. How many meetings have you attended of the mayor and council
I don’t know an exact number, but like many residents of Glen Rock I take advantage of watching council meetings on Glen Rock TV. I also read the posted minutes of meetings online to stay informed. My family and I understand the deep commitment in time and energy required of a mayor. As a former volunteer firefighter and an Electrician, I have experience working long hours with little pay. I am committed to serving the residents’ interests of Glen Rock and being at every council meeting, event, and celebration.
~~ James Hughes